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Diego Forlan tips Atletico Madrid for La Liga title challenge

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Diego Forlan believes Atletico Madrid’s summer recruits have bolstered their La Liga title prospects against an ageing Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Atletico have entered the international break this week sitting top of La Liga on nine points. In fact, they’re the only team to win all three of their opening games with rivals Barcelona and Real only scrapping one victory each.

It marks an impressive turnaround for Diego Simeone’s men considering the losses they suffered in the summer transfer window.

The most notable of all was Antoine Griezmann, who swapped Atletico for Barcelona in a €120m deal. While captain Diego Godin, Rodri, Felipe Luis, Juanfran and Lucas Hernandez were also among the 11 players to bid goodbye to the Wanda Metropolitano permanently.

But Atletico bounced back in style by signing the highly-rated Benfica star Joao Felix for a club-record €126m fee. The likes of Marcos Llorente, Mario Hermoso and Kieran Trippier have also arrived.

Therefore, Forlan believes last season’s La Liga runners-up have closed the gap to their rivals with a perfect blend of youth and experience.

“Yes. Well, we have to see,” the former Atletico striker said on La Liga TV.

“I know that Real Madrid and Barcelona have great players but so do Atletico Madrid. They signed really good players, Joao Felix as I said, and Diego Costa is an experienced player, great talent.

“They’ve renewed the team with some great young players. They did a great pre-season and now we need to see how they do in the league. But they look really good. What they showed in the pre-season was interesting, great games against great teams.

“The derby against Real Madrid, I know it was a friendly but it was also a derby and nobody likes to lose by that kind of score [7-3].

“They’re going to be fighting [for the title], they always fight. The gap is getting a little closer now. And those players that made history for Real Madrid and Barcelona, they’re getting older as well. That could be an advantage for Atletico Madrid.

“Having a new team and renewing the team every season. Real Madrid and Barcelona are doing it a little slower than Atletico but they’re still in great shape.

“Great players with experience. We have to see, but I think Atletico Madrid are in a good position to fight for the title again.”

Forlan himself scored 96 goals in 196 appearances during a four-year spell with Atletico between 2007 and 2011.

The ex-Manchester United player, in fact, announced his retirement from football last month.

MADRID, SPAIN – JANUARY 13: Diego Forlan of Atletico Madrid in action during the Copa del Rey quarter final first leg match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 13, 2011 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)